PM Imran terms COVID-19 as most serious global crisis since World War II


ISLAMABAD (News10) – Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday termed the coronavirus pandemic as the most serious global crisis since the Second World War

He stated this while addressing the UN General Assembly’s two-day special session, which opened Thursday, on the response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic and forge a united path forward to better recovery, including access to a vaccine.

PM Imran proposed a ten-point agenda to world leaders to avert economic collapse due to the Covid-19 pandemic and called for debt suspension, drawing rights of USD $500 billion and return of stolen assets stashed in rich countries.

In a recorded video message to the Summit from Islamabad, the Prime Minister said the pandemic caused immense human suffering and created the deepest global economic contraction since the great depression of the 1930s.

Khan pointed that nearly 100 million people in developing countries would fall back into extreme poverty while on the other hand, the rich countries had injected $13 trillion as fiscal stimulus to revive their economies.

“Developing countries just do not have the resources to afford such a massive economic stimulus … They are struggling to find even a fraction of the $ 2-3 trillion they require to recover from the pandemic,” Imran Khan said.

“If economic collapse is to be averted in a number of developing countries due to the covid-19, the international community must identify and implement some key priority actions.

He proposed a ten-point agenda for urgent action, which called for;

One, debt suspension till the end of the pandemic for low income and most stressed countries;

Two, cancellation of debt of least developed countries;

Three, restructuring of the public sector debt of other developing countries under an agreed inclusive multilateral framework;

Four, a general allocation of special drawing rights of $500 billion;

Five, expanded concessional financing to lower income countries through multilateral development banks;

Six, creation of a new ‘liquidity and sustainability facility’, which should provide short term loans at lower costs;

Seven, fulfilment of the 0.7 % official development assistance commitments;

Eight, mobilizing the required $1.5 trillion annual investment in sustainable infrastructure;

Nine, achievement of the agreed target of mobilizing $100 billion per year for climate action in developing countries, and

Ten, immediate action to stop the massive illicit financial outflows from developing countries to rich countries, to offshore tax havens and at the same time, immediate return of their assets stolen by corrupt politicians and criminals back to these countries.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said “this one action, I assure you Mr. President, would benefit the poor countries more than all other measures put together.

Terming the Covid-19 pandemic as the “most serious global crisis since the second world war,” Khan said the virus has infected nearly 65 million people and killed close to 1.5 million and the poorest countries and the poor in all the countries were suffering the most.

He hoped that whenever the vaccine was available, it would be offered to everyone.

The two-day event would be addressed by 141 speakers, including 53 Heads of State, 39 Heads of Government, 4 Deputy Prime Ministers and 38 Ministers, through pre-recorded videos.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address mentioned Pakistan’s successful policy of “smart lockdowns” and said these efforts were aimed at ensuring that not they save people from the virus, but also prevent them from dying from hunger.

“We provided a relief package of around US $ 8 billion – which was almost 3% of our DGP – to support the poor and to keep the economy afloat at the same time,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that so far their strategy has worked, but now the country was confronted with a far more aggressive second wave of the virus.

“We are facing now the challenge of maintaining and reviving our economic growth as well as dealing with increasing number of cases which are occupying our hospital beds,” he said.

The Prime Minister referred to the advice made by Managing Director International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the countries to spend as much as it was required, to stimulate growth, and said that like many developing countries, Pakistan were committed under their IMF program to reduce the budget deficit.

“And I am sure other developing countries in our position are facing a similar dilemma. How to stimulate the economy and yet at the same time reduce our budget deficit?”, he remarked.

The Prime Minister said that the only way they can have the fiscal space to maintain and revive growth was through access to additional liquidity.

He recalled his last April’s called for a “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” and said they were grateful for the debt suspension announced by G-20 in May, and its subsequent extension till June next year.

The Prime Minister also appreciated the rapid lending facilities activated by IMF and the World Bank.

“Yet, the amounts generated so far are not even close to the needs of the developing countries to recover from the impact of the pandemic,” he added.

The Prime Minister said that as far as he knew, five developing countries have already defaulted on their debt, and it seems others were about to follow.

“Several nations, faced with large debt repayments and at the same time lost revenues, are on the brink of economic collapse,” he added.

The Prime Minister said there were disturbing reports from the World Food Programme of possible famines in some parts of the world.

He said the ‘Financing for Development’ discussions initiated by the Secretary General and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica have identified hundreds of options to financially support the developing countries.

“We hope that this process culminates in some concrete actions soon,” he added.

The Prime Minister said there was a need to reform the international financial architecture; build an inclusive and equitable debt management mechanism; construct a democratic; SDG-focused trading system; and install a fair international tax regime..

Prime Minister Imran Khan said there was a consensus that there has to be a collective response to recover from the Covid-19 crisis, and at the same time, achieve sustainable development goals, and implement targets set by the Paris agreement.

Imran Khan said the US Charter’s concept of “collective security” embraces “collective economic security”.

“Without economic security, conflicts and disputes will persist and proliferate across the world. Guided by the principles of this charter, we must all work collectively for an inclusive, stable and sustainable economic, social and political order,” Imran Khan said.

The Prime Minister thanked President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir and President Aliyev of Azerbaijan, chairman of the non-aligned movement, for proposing this special session.

Among the leaders who addressed the session are; French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and European Union chief Charles Michel. The United States will be represented by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.